YOUNG cricketers at Ripon Grammar School have emerged as the top-ranked state school team in the county following a thrilling Yorkshire Indoor Cricket Championships final.
The U15s girls’ team has been going from strength to strength after rising through the ranks from group stages two years ago to make the semi-finals last year.
This is the first time they have played the final at Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Headingly Cricket Centre, where they were beaten by the independent Wakefield Girls’ High School in a particularly hard-fought, action-packed game.
But the girls are determined to build on their success. Olivia Vollans 14, from Ripon, said: “To get to the final is a great achievement, it’s something we are very proud of as it is a big step up, a great improvement.”
Director of Sport Adam Milner said he had high hopes for the team, which is now in training for a number of major outdoor competitions, including the School Sport Magazine National Cup in May.
With many of the talented team of nine excelling in a range of other sports - including swimming, hockey, football, netball and golf - he stressed that their all-round skills, commitment to training and refusal to give up is what makes them so successful.
Captain Georgi Houseman, 15, from Bishop Thornton, told how, at one point, the girls were convinced they were about to be knocked out in the county semi-final against Middlesbrough’s Macmillan Academy before snatching an impressive victory: “We pulled together and got a lot of wickets to turn it around.”
Georgi singled out Anna Garnett, 13, from Darley, who took six wickets in one game, with four stumpings, before bowling two players in one over, for special praise, emphasising that the secret of the team’s success was how well they all worked together.
Lily Wainwright, 14, a boarding student from Helmsley, agreed: “This is just my second year playing cricket and I really like it because it’s such a team sport.”
Following a series of impressive, fast-paced matches in the various group stages, the girls - who have been practising during games, at lunch-times and after school - triumphed against both St Aidan’s and York’s Manor CE Academy in the Harrogate and Craven and the North Yorkshire finals.
With four of the girls playing cricket for North Yorkshire and one representing Yorkshire, Mr Milner said they were an exceptionally strong team: “Cricket for girls at Ripon Grammar School is really growing as a sport. This is the furthest we have reached in county tournaments and, having enjoyed a very successful indoor season, we’re now looking forward to our outdoor fixtures.”
He added that some of the girls were much younger than many of their competitors: “Although it’s an U15 team, a lot of the players are younger, so will develop and continue on next year, which is great for the future of the sport at RGS.”
*Indoor cricket, first played back in the 1960s, is growing rapidly. Games - 12 overs a side between teams of six or eight - are played on a full-length pitch with each batting pair facing between two and six overs and score runs by hitting the ball to different sections of the court and also by running between the wickets.